Unfortunately, victims of car accidents are often unfairly blamed for crashes they did not cause. This is because, in many states, if an insurance company can prove that the victim is 50-51 percent or more at fault, they can reject the claim. This is due to the “modified comparative negligence” rule, which is in effect in a majority of states.
If the claim is not denied, insurance companies can still use comparative negligence to lower settlements. That’s because, in most states, crash compensation is reduced by a victim’s percentage contribution to an accident. For example, if an injured crash victim is 10 percent at fault in an accident and has $100,000 in damages, their compensation would be reduced by 10 percent to $90,000.
A handful of states have “contributory negligence” rules instead. In these states, if the insurance company can prove a victim’s actions contributed at all to a crash – even just 1 percent – then the injured victim gets nothing. They are barred from filing a claim or lawsuit seeking financial compensation. States with contributory negligence rules are Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia, as well as the District of Columbia.
A skilled car accident lawyer can help injured victims fight back against unfair tactics. They can negotiate with insurance companies on the victim's behalf and represent them in court if necessary.